Charity cyclists near $60k goal

More than 50 riders from ages 20 to 68 took on the massive one-day bike ride from Frankton to Invercargill to raise funds for the Westpac Chopper Appeal. PHOTO: Supplied

This year's Westpac Chopper Appeal bike ride from Queenstown to Invercargill is expected to have met its $60,000 fundraising goal for the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust.

The 56 cyclists who took part in this year's bike ride on Friday, May 18 lucked out with good weather and supportive tailwinds catching them for much of the 245km ride.

Westpac business development manager for Southland and ride organiser Murray Heath said riders took off at 5.45am at the Westpac branch in Frankton, braving the Devil's Staircase in the dark.

After passing through Kingston, Five Rivers, and Lumsden, this year's route focused on Eastern Southland. The group was greeted by enthusiastic students at West Gore School for their lunch break and an impromptu haka at Menzies College in Wyndham before coming to an end in Invercargill on the dot at 5pm.

Mr Heath said while he felt confident they would exceed their $60,000 fundraising goal.

The bike ride, now in its eighth year, forms a large part of the funds raised for the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust through the annual appeal.

In April news broke that a joint office between the Ministry of Health and ACC, called NASO, put out a request for proposals that would consolidate all air rescue helicopter services into one contract for the entire South Island. The proposal removed Te Anau as a base of operations to cover Fiordland and Southland, instead having services coming from Queenstown.

Tenders are being considered now and a decision is expected in August.


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